Regulation of amniotic fluid volume: Mathematical model based on intramembranous transport mechanisms

Robert A. Brace, Debra F. Anderson, Cecilia Y. Cheung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Experimentation in late-gestation fetal sheep has suggested that regulation of amniotic fluid (AF) volume occurs primarily by modulating the rate of intramembranous transport of water and solutes across the amnion into underlying fetal blood vessels. In order to gain insight into intramembranous transport mechanisms, we developed a computer model that allows simulation of experimentally measured changes in AF volume and composition over time. The model included fetal urine excretion and lung liquid secretion as inflows into the amniotic compartment plus fetal swallowing and intramembranous absorption as outflows. By using experimental flows and solute concentrations for urine, lung liquid, and swallowed fluid in combination with the passive and active transport mechanisms of the intramembranous pathway, we simulated AF responses to basal conditions, intra-amniotic fluid infusions, fetal intravascular infusions, urine replacement, and tracheoesophageal occlusion. The experimental data are consistent with four intramembranous transport mechanisms acting in concert: 1) an active unidirectional bulk transport of AF with all dissolved solutes out of AF into fetal blood presumably by vesicles; 2) passive bidirectional diffusion of solutes, such as sodium and chloride, between fetal blood and AF; 3) passive bidirectional water movement between AF and fetal blood; and 4) unidirectional transport of lactate into the AF. Further, only unidirectional bulk transport is dynamically regulated. The simulations also identified areas for future study: 1) identifying intramembranous stimulators and inhibitors, 2) determining the semipermeability characteristics of the intramembranous pathway, and 3) characterizing the vesicles that are the primary mediators of intramembranous transport.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R1260-R1273
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 15 2014


  • Intra-amniotic infusion
  • Intramembranous absorption
  • Intramembranous permeability
  • Vesicular transport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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